COVID frontline health workers demand more payment

Frontline health workers in Vanuatu dealing with COVID-19 are demanding the Government to look at health insurance provisions for them.

The Vice Chair for the Vanuatu Nurses Association, Robert Moise, says the association has raised its concerns about the health workers who are taking care of the COVID-19 patient in the isolation unit in Port Vila.

He says, as a goodwill gesture, the Government has made a one-off payment of VT100,000 to health workers involved in COVID-19, which he says is not enough.

“This money is not enough for the welfare of our nurses,” Mr Moise said.

“We are risking our lives dealing with this COVID-19.”

He says the association has raised its concerns with the Public Service Commission.

The Secretary General for the Public Service Commission, Jean Yve Bibi, says the commission has made some preliminary decisions on the issue but more discussion is needed.

Mr Bibi says the commission has considered paying a risk allowance of VT18,000 for two weeks work on top of the VT100,000 received by frontline workers.

Mr Bibi says the decision would not mean the VT18,000 would be paid to workers every two weeks, it would be paid to workers only when they are dealing with COVID duties.

He says the commission will also discuss workers’ compensation if a nurse, doctor or any other frontline worker contracted the virus while on duty.

Mr Moise says frontline health workers are working in weekly shifts.

“This means after their one week shift, they have to go for 14 days of quarantine and after quarantine the health workers are allowed to go back to their families and stay for two weeks before they return to their next shift,” he said.

Mr Moise says this would happen with other frontline health workers in other provinces in Vanuatu.

While Vanuatu has had only one case of coronavirus this year, in September, Amnesty International reported that at least 7000 health workers have died around the world after contracting COVID-19.

The infected ni-Vanuatu man travelled from the US, and was in quarantine when his case was confirmed.
At least 1320 health workers are confirmed to have died in Mexico alone, the highest known figure for any one country.

Amnesty International also recorded high numbers of health worker deaths in the US, 1077, and Brazil, 634, where infection and death rates have been high throughout the pandemic.

South Africa has recorded 240 deaths of frontline health workers while India, where infection rates have soared in recent months, has recorded 573.

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